Tea Party hero Sen. Jim DeMint, who jolted Washington Thursday with the news he would leave to head the conservative Heritage Foundation, has found his rightful home. The U.S. Senate was just not his cup of tea. For a man who said he would rather have 30 pure conservatives in the Republican minority in the Senate that 60 moderates to give the party a majority, it is clear that — having not found his untainted minority, or an uncompromised majority — that the outside is where he belongs.

The political universe is buzzing about who will replace DeMint and about his reach outside the upper chamber, and the ultimate influence and direction of the conservative movement in the wake of the GOP's 2012 defeat. There is enormous tension brewing within the GOP over the question of whether the establishment will need to exert itself more in future races to win or whether doing so will excite people like DeMint who support losing candidates like Christine O'Donnell in Delaware. This year DeMint aided both Rep. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock in races in Missouri and Indiana, where both Tea Party candidates embarrassed the party and went down to defeat following their controversial comments on rape.

To win or remain pure? That is the question Republicans must answer as they reset for 2016. To legislate and compromise, or to oppose? That is another question Republicans must ask themselves in the coming days as they try and resolve the fiscal cliff without taking their party off its own cliff.

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